Japan Facts

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Here's some interesting info on The Land of the Rising Sun. This fact sheet was provided to The Rebelscum staffers making the trip by Philip and Anne Wise. Thanks guys! I'm happy to share this info with all of you. See you on the other side of the Pacific next week!!!!


Japan Facts
Area:

377,835 sq km
Population:

127,214,499 (As of July 2003)

Time: 9 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+9). All area in Japan is in the same time zone. (Japan Time Chart)

Electricity: 100 volts. 50 Hertz in eastern Japan and 60 Hertz in western Japan.

The electrical current in Japan is 100 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC) in eastern Japan, and 100 volts, 60 cycles in western Japan; the United States runs on 110-volt, 60-cycle AC current. Wall outlets in Japan accept plugs with two flat prongs, like in the United States, but do not accept U.S. three-prong plugs.

Consider making a small investment in a universal adapter, which has several types of plugs in one lightweight, compact unit. Most laptops and mobile phone chargers are dual voltage (i.e., they operate equally well on 110 and 220 volts), so require only an adapter. These days the same is true of small appliances such as hair dryers. Always check labels and manufacturer instructions to be sure. Don't use 110-volt outlets marked for shavers only for high-wattage appliances such as hair-dryers.

Currency: Yen (JPY)

Weather: Japan's rainy season lasts about 40 days during the months of June and July. Also, August to October is the typhoon season in Japan. It's important to check the weather often during the typhoon season. Japan Information Network indicates that Japan has an unusually high amount of rainfall, averaging 1,700-1,800 millimeters per year. Summer months are June, July, and August. Also, things are easily covered by mold. It is important to air your closet or house when the sun is out.

Etiquette in Japan:

Bowing (ojigi) is a very important custom in Japan. Japanese people bow all the time. Most commonly, they greet each other by bowing instead of handshaking. It is impolite not to return a bow to whoever bowed to you. Japanese people tend to become uncomfortable with any physical forms of contact. But, they became used to shaking hands with westerners.

Bowing has many functions in one. It expresses the feeling of respect, thanking, apologizing, greeting, and so on. It's a convenient and important custom for you to learn. You can bow, when you say, "Thank you", "Sorry", "Hello", "Good bye", "Congratulations", "Excuse me", "Good night", "Good Morning", and more!!

Bowing seems simple, but there are different ways of bowing. It depends on the social status or age of the person you bow to. If the person is higher status or older than you are, you should bow deeper and longer. It is polite to bow, bending from your waist. Men usually keep their hands in their sides, and women usually put their hands together on their thighs with their fingers touching. If it is a casual situation, you can bow like nodding. The most frequent bow is a bow of about 15 degrees. You might feel strange to do it, but try to bow in Japan. You will be considered very polite!

Packing Tips:

Packing Tip 1: Money

The yen is the Japanese currency unit. It's convenient to bring major credit cards, such as MasterCard or VISA. You can use them at various places such as department stores, hotels, and restaurants in major cities. If you are traveling the countryside of Japan, many stores might not accept credit cards/traveler's checks. It's good to carry some Japanese yen in cash while you are in Japan. Be careful of pickpockets if you are taking a crowded train or going to an event where you can expect a large crowd. Currency Converter: To Japanese Yen You can use some foreign credit cards/ATM cards at Japan Post Office ATM.

Tipping

Tipping is not common in Japan. It's not necessary to tip taxi drivers, or at hair salons, barbershops, bars, or nightclubs. A chauffeur for a hired car usually receives a tip of ¥500 ($4.50) for a half-day excursion and ¥1,000 ($9) for a full-day trip. Porters charge fees of ¥250-¥300 (about $2.50) per bag at railroad stations and ¥200 ($1.80) per piece at airports. It's not customary to tip employees of hotels, even porters, unless a special service has been rendered. In such cases, a gratuity of ¥2,000-¥3,000 ($18-$26) should be placed in an envelope and handed to the staff member discreetly.

Packing Tip 2: Appliances

The electricity in Japan is 100 volts, and there are two cycles (50/60). In Tokyo and areas northeast of Tokyo, the electricity is 50 cycles. In the southwest Japan, it's 60 cycles. Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya are in the southwest side. If you need to bring any appliances from your country, make sure to bring a converter or plug. American appliances can be used in Japan without a converter although they will have less power. If your appliances are three-pronged, you need a plug since Japanese appliances are two-pronged. You can buy converters and plugs in the airports or travel equipment stores in Japan. But since it could be a hassle for you to find a store that sells the converters, it's better to purchase them in your own country. It shouldn't take much space in your luggage. If you want to email your family or friends from Japan, you might want to take your laptop. You can connect to the Internet from major hotels and public phones although Internet access can be expensive in Japan.

Packing Tip 3: Luggage

Compared with westerners, who often travel with large suitcases, it's not common for Japanese people to travel with a large suitcase around the country. Consequently, there isn't usually a wide space to store large luggage in trains, and the coin lockers aren't large enough to hold them either. Keeping your luggage small is recommended when you travel around Japan. You might want to bring several small bags so that you don't have to carry a large suitcase.

Packing Tip 4: Shoes

Since it's a Japanese custom to take off your shoes indoors, you might have to take off your shoes often in Japan. Bringing a pair of shoes that you can slip off and on easily might be convenient. Make sure to bring, and wear, a nice pair of socks or pantyhose to avoid any embarrassment when you take off your shoes.

Packing Tip 5: Handkerchief and Pocket tissue (THIS IS A BIGGIE)

It's important to carry a handkerchief in Japan. Many restrooms in Japan don't have paper towels. Be sure to bring a handkerchief in your pocket to dry your hands. Also, pocket tissues are good to carry, since they are often needed while traveling.

Packing Tip 6: Clothing

At more expensive restaurants and nightclubs, men usually need to wear a jacket and tie. Wear conservative colors (blue, black, or gray) at business meetings. Casual clothes are fine for sightseeing. Jeans are as popular in Japan as they are in the United States and are perfectly acceptable for informal dining and sightseeing.

Although there are no strict dress codes for visiting temples and shrines, you will be out of place in shorts or immodest outfits. For sightseeing leave sandals and open-toe shoes behind; you'll need sturdy walking shoes for the gravel pathways that surround temples and fill parks -- if not a long day of trudging up and down subway-station stairs. Make sure to bring comfortable clothing that isn't too tight to wear in traditional Japanese restaurants, where you may need to sit on tatami-mat floors. For beach and mountain resorts pack informal clothes for both day and evening wear.

If you think that toe-revealing hole in your sock or run in the foot of your stocking will remain your own little secret, think again. Japanese do not wear shoes in private homes or in many temples or traditional inns. Having shoes you can quickly slip in and out of is also an advantage. Take some wool socks along to help you through those shoeless occasions in winter.

Packing Tip 7: Medicines

When it comes to medications, Japan can be a stickler. Even narcotic products sold over the counter in the U.S., such as a Vicks Inhaler, are technically not allowed through customs. And you may find that their counterparts in Japan are less than adequate. No more than a month's supply of prescription drugs, two months of non-prescription, and four months of vitamins and supplements are allowed per passenger. While Japan is no stranger to pornography, such media not meeting government standards are also forbidden. Sunglasses, sunscreen lotions, and hats are readily available, and these days they're not much more expensive in Japan. It's a good idea to carry a couple of plastic bags to protect your camera and clothes during sudden cloudbursts.

Packing Tip 8: Morning Coffee

According to Starbucks website there are no stores located in Tokyo. So read below coffee drinkers!

Dietary diversity abounds in Japan, but not without effort. Don't be surprised if accommodating waitstaff is at a loss for dish details -- or why you need to know. Diners with allergies or aversions to shellfish and other seafood may want to consider packing with this in mind if a "set menu" is part of a package tour. Most lodgings provide a thermos of hot water and tea in every room, but for coffee you may have to call room service (which can be expensive), buy coffee in a can from a vending machine, buy instant coffee at a 24-hour convenience store, or find the nearest Starbucks or local equivalent, of which Tokyo has many. Why not bring along packets of instant coffee, as a precaution?

Restrooms:

The most hygienic restrooms are found in hotels and department stores, while those at most train or gas stations can be considerably less so. All are usually clearly marked with international symbols. You may encounter Japanese-style toilets, with bowls recessed into the floor, over which you squat facing the hood. This may take some getting used to, but it's completely sanitary as you don't come into direct contact with the facility. Train station restrooms often have at least one commode for the less agile at the end-row stall.

In many homes and Japanese-style public places, there will be a pair of slippers at the entrance to the restrooms. Change into these before entering the room, and change back when you exit.

Some public toilets don't have toilet paper, though there are dispensers where packets can be purchased for ¥50 (45¢) or so. Similarly, paper towel dispensers or hand dryers are not always installed, so a small handkerchief is useful to dry your hands.

Japanese Safety

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, and while at times many Japanese do not speak English, most people are extremely hospitable and will go out of their way to help travelers find their way around, and make the most out of their trip to Japan.

The actual crime rate is very low in Japan, and is not something that should concern travelers to the country. Of course common sense should be applied anywhere in the world, but it is rare for travelers to feel anything but safe in this beautiful country.

As for those bugs and pests that are a little harder to spot, then rest assured that no inoculations are needed to enter Japan from anywhere in the world.

The tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan, but bottled water and mineral water are also readily available.

CRIME: Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually only involve personal disputes, theft or vandalism. The general crime rate in Japan is at levels well below the U.S. national average. Violent crime is rare, but does exist. Incidents of pick pocketing of foreigners in crowded shopping areas, on trains and at airports have been a sporadic concern. Every year, a number of Americans report their passports lost or stolen at Narita Airport, especially passports being carried in pockets. Some Americans report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns than would be the case in the United States, particularly in cases involving domestic violence, [censored] assault, and when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of [censored] assault crimes are often conducted without women police officers present and typically involve inquiries into the victim's [censored] history and previous relationships. Quality of translations can vary significantly, and has proven unsettling to some American victims.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi, Tokyo: The majority of crimes reported by Americans have occurred in Roppongi, an entertainment district that caters to foreign clientele. Incidents involving U.S. Citizens since spring 2004 include murder, assault, overdoses on heroin allegedly purchased in Roppongi, theft of purses and wallets at bars in clubs, exorbitant bar tabs and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks. A number of Americans have also been arrested over the past year in Roppongi for various offenses. Please be aware that Roppongi has also been the scene of recent violence between criminal syndicates. Americans are urged to keep these incidents in mind and exercise caution should they choose to visit Roppongi.

Police can be summoned throughout Japan by dialing 110. Fire and ambulance services can be summoned by dialing 119. These numbers may not work from cell phones, however, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available. Advice on how to call for an ambulance in Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-call.html. Persons seeking assistance should be able to describe their address/location in Japanese or enlist a friend who can do so, as few police officers speak English.

Japanese Geisha

Who are Geisha?

"Gei" means arts or performance in Japanese. "Sha" means people. Geisha are professional hostesses who entertain guests through various performing arts. Geisha girls and women are not ordinary hostesses and are not prostitutes. It's believed that the women who danced for warriers in the 11th century are the predecessors of geisha. Geisha girls and women are trained in a number of traditional skills; Japanese ancient dance, singing, playing instruments (a three stringed instrument called shamisen is an essential instrument), flower arrangement, wearing kimono, tea ceremony, calligraphy, conversation, alcohol serving manners, and more. Geisha girls and women are talented Japanese women who patiently go through extensive training. Even after becoming a geisha girl, they keep improving their skills by taking many lessons.

Nowadays, there are geisha girls and women who learn English conversation to serve English-speaking customers and learn computer skills. The work of geisha is expanding these days, including modeling or international tours, for example.

Geisha District and Geisha House (o-chaya)

The districts where many geisha girls and women gather are called hanamachi (kagai). Some hanamachi were developed near temples and shrines where many o-chaya located. Geisha used to entertain visitors at o-chaya. The o-chaya type of teahouse is completely different from those shops that merely serve tea or coffee. It's a sort of banquet house, which rents rooms for dinner parties. An o-chaya is usually a small Japanese-style house with wooden doors and tatami floors or Japanese-style gardens. Some o-chaya also train geisha and are places for maiko (young geisha girls) to live and go to work. Those o-chaya are also called okiya.
The Basics of Japanese Food

Although rice consumption in Japanese households is declining, rice is a staple of the Japanese diet. Rice cakes (mochi) are also commonly consumed. Japanese people even call each meal "gohan (steamed rice)", such as "asa (morning) - gohan" for breakfast. A bowl of rice is included in typical Japanese meals. Side dishes are called okazu and are served with rice and soup at the same time. A Japanese meal usually ends with drinking green tea.

People in Japan generally eat three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Traditonal Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso (soy bean paste) soup, and side dishes.

Common side dishes are grilled fish, rolled omelet, pickles, dried seaweed, natto, salad, and more.

Popular Japanese lunch dishes are rice bowls and various noodles. For example, beef bowls, soba noodles, ramen noodles, and udon noodles are popular. Many people bring bento (lunch boxes) to school or work. Popular lunch box menus are rice [censored], sushi rolls, steamed rice, and various sandwiches.

Dinner is the main meal in a day. You might be surprised by the variety of food available in Japan. You'll find that not only sushi or tempura are popular in Japan, but also Italian, Chinese, Korean, French, and American dishes. For example, spaghetti, hamburgers, and Korean BBQ are some of the most popular menu items among Japanese children. Modern Japanese dishes are highly influenced by other Asian and western countries. Japanese people adapted the cuisines to their eating habits, creating their own dishes from foreign fare.

Japanese people distinguish traditional Japanese-style dishes as "Washoku" (Wa means Japanese-style and shoku means food) as opposed to Western foods, which are generally called "Yo-shoku" (Yo

means western-style). Chinese dishes are called "Chuuka." Chuuka dishes in Japan are arranged in the Japanese-style and are often cooked at home. It's similar to authentic Chinese food, but has its differences. For example, ramen noodles originated in China, but ramen became a typical Japanese food.
 
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Great post thanks! Although Ive never been there Ive been researching Japan and Tokyo for some time now. I think some of this information is dated as there are many Starbucks listed for Tokyo. I dont drink coffee but I know how important it is to some


Starbucks Tokyo

1 . Tokyo --Access Omotesando
AXES Omotesando, 3-6-17, Kita-Aoyama,

2 . Tokyo --AEON Akishima
889, Ogamicho, Akishima-[censored]

3 . Tokyo --AEON Mall Hinode
557 Hirai Hinode-machi

4 . Tokyo --AEON Mall Hinode Public Court
557 Hirai Hinode-machi

5 . Tokyo --Akabane Station
1-1-1, Akabane, Kita-ku

6 . Tokyo --Akasaka Biz Tower
5-3-1 Akaska Minato-ku

7 . Tokyo --Akasaka Kokusai Bld
Akasaka, Minato-ku

8 . Tokyo --Akasaka Long Beach
3-21-20, Akasaka, Minato-Ku

9 . Tokyo --Akasaka Prudential Tower
2-13-10 Nagatacho Chiyoda-ku

10 . Tokyo --Akasaka Sanno Park Tower
2-11-1, Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku

11 . Tokyo --Akasaka Tameike Tower
2-17-1, Akasaka, Mitato-ku

12 . Tokyo --Akihabara UDX Bldg
4-14-1, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku

13 . Tokyo --Akishima Mori Town
562-1, Tanakacho, Akishima

14 . Tokyo --Aomi SUN WALK
Pallet town, 1, Aomi, Koto-ku,

15 . Tokyo --Aoyama Gaien Nishi-dori
3-2-2, Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku

16 . Tokyo --Aoyama Kotto-tori
Hachihonkan 1F, 5-10-1, Minami-Aoyama,

17 . Tokyo --Aqua City
AQUA CiTY Odaiba, 1-7-1, Daiba,

18 . Tokyo --Ark Hills
1-12-32 Akasaka, Minato-ku

19 . Tokyo --Asagaya Station
Asagaya, Suginami-ku, TOKYO

20 . Tokyo --Atre Ebisu
1-5-5 Ebisu Shibuya-ku
 

GBH

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mate there are so many starbucks in japan,if people cant find one then they have the IQ of a gamorrean
 
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I was sweating coffee after reading the OP. I need my morning fix, or I turn into an angry individual


I'll be in Tokyo, so I should be able to get some java no problem.
 
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For those that travelled there for CJ, did anyone have any problems at all? Language barrier aside, that is.
I've always heard positive things from visitors to Japan.
 
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I had a great time and I would go back in a second! Nice country and nice people.
 
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No problems whatsoever. It was a little easier to communicate in Tokyo than places like Kyoto and Osaka mainly due to bilingual signs and menus, but everyone was always super friendly. It was only a day back in the states, and I was already longing for the courteousness of the Japanese people.

I absolutely loved it in Japan, and would go back in a heartbeat. 10 days really isn't enough. I hope to learn the language and take another trip some day.
 
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Oh, and there's TONS of coffee shops in Tokyo. I think only Seattle can compete. lol.

The vending machines all have a minimum of 2 - 3 kinds of cold coffee shots too, which was really nice.
 
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Me and my GF had a great time in Japan. People were polite, even in the crowed trains at times
Tokyo is the cleanest city in the world I've ever gone to. My little town of 5k has more garbage and dirt blowing around that what I saw in all of Tokyo. Language was not too much of a problem, morso as you moved into the more rural areas out of Tokyo. I had some issues with service at my overpriced-for-the-service hotel...I could have spent half what I did and got free breakfast and internet at the hotel across the steet from me. Was very hot and humid, but I expected that. Transportation was cheap, food was cheap, and overall we had a very safe feeling no matter where we went. I'd go back again, but perhaps at a more cool time of year
 
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We had no problems. As was said by a japanese toy collector/dealer: "you don't need verbal language to buy toys just a smile, a pointing finger and a calculator".

I wish more restaurants had english menus, but we did fine. We savored the sushi, ramen, tempura, etc. and we were able to find food for our non-japanese-food-eating companions.

I prefer winter tokyo to summer tokyo.


~Alyssa
 
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